Are you a caregiver and concerned that someone you know may need to move to assisted living, but not quite sure if it’s the right time or if it is needed?  Have you noticed signs or behaviors of your loved one that gives you pause or makes you ask the question of, “Is it time to move them to assisted living?”  Many caregivers may think assisted living could be beneficial, but the ultimate question is,  “When does the home become unsafe or unfit for the person to remain living in it?”

There may or may not ever be a perfect “right time” to move someone to assisted living as there are varying levels of risk factors that can be associated with memory loss, however, The University of Iowa College of Nursing has developed a list of signs to look for when assessing when it is not safe for your loved one to continue living in his or her home by himself or herself.

The list of factors is separated into categories as follows:

“A” Behaviors: If one of these behaviors is present, he or she needs to be helped right away and should not be left alone.

  • Losing 10% or more of body weight in less than 6 months.
  • Agitated paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, suicidal thoughts, or aggression, especially if weapons are present.
  • Misuse of appliances and/or evidence of a fire.
  • Lack of food or rancid food only in the house.
  • Falling, unexplained bruises, or substance abuse.
  • Medication mistakes.
  • Lack of attention to and care for serious medical conditions or treatments, repeated visits to the emergency room, hospitalizations, or physical complaints.
  • Reports of abuse.
  • Domestic violence including caregiver injury.
  • Repeated calls to police and/or emergency numbers.
  • Wandering outside of his or her house.
  • An eviction notice served to him or her.

“A/B” Behaviors: These are behaviors that can be classified as A or B depending on how severe they are according to his or her caregiver.

  • Neglected or non-usable plumbing, especially when he or she has caused the problem.
  • Thermostat on incorrect temperature for type of weather.
  • Persistent anxiety, panic attacks, or depression.
  • Continued driving with the inability to safely operate a vehicle.
  • Law enforcement or emergency service personnel ask that the person be evaluated after numerous calls.

“B” Behaviors: If two or more of these behaviors are present, work toward in-home care to be provided in a few weeks time or moving him or her to another home where help can be accessed.

  • Inability or refusal to control continence or continually resists personal care.
  • Repeated calls to family regarding next steps or worry over planned events.
  • Unclean or infested house which causes a health risk, including accumulated garbage and food stored improperly.
  • Exploitation of him or her by another person.

“B/C” Behaviors: These behaviors can be classified as B or C, depending on the severity of them according to his or her caregiver.

  • Statements regarding need to move or unable to cope.
  • Others complain about his or her dependence on them.
  • Others advise he or she needs help.

“C” Behaviors: If three or more of these behaviors are present, provide help as needed and re-evaluate each month going forward.

  • Behavior that socially isolates him or her.
  • Losing, misplacing, or hiding items.
  • Poor hygiene, lack of grooming, and wearing dirty laundry.
  • Post-it notes are throughout the house.

As caregivers we want always what is best for our loved ones, but sometimes struggle knowing what that is or what actions we should take.  If you need help assessing your loved one’s personal planning needs, give our attorneys a call, and we will be happy to help you navigate these decisions and planning going forward.